Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
- 2 Corinthians 5:5-10
“For a while, we are fully aware of God’s concern for us. But then, when God begins to use us in His work, we begin to take on a pitiful look and talk only of our trials and difficulties. And all the while God is trying to make us do our work as hidden people who are not in the spotlight. None of us would be hidden spiritually if we could help it. Can we do our work when it seems that God has sealed up heaven? Some of us always want to be brightly illuminated saints with golden halos and with the continual glow of inspiration, and to have other saints of God dealing with us all the time. A self-assured saint is of no value to God. He is abnormal, unfit for daily life, and completely unlike God. We are here, not as immature angels, but as men and women, to do the work of this world. And we are to do it with an infinitely greater power to withstand the struggle because we have been born from above.”
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
From the Scripture, how do we please God? By making less of ourselves and more of God, glorifying Him.
The problem in reading a lot, especially when distracted, is that the books run together. I believe the following concept is from J. I. Packer’s Knowing God, but it could be from Os Guinness’ Fool’s Talk. Oh, to take better notes. I lean toward Packer’s book, maybe the fourth chapter. The concept is this. We have a loving God. Everything should be rainbows and unicorns, right? No, we are promised persecution for righteousness sake. Persecutions does not fit into the rainbows and unicorn motif. Thus, when we describe God or talk about the Christian life, we should balance between both sides. We misrepresent God when we focus on the good stuff or the suffering. God is love. God has our best interests at heart, but we live in a fallen world. God does not shield us from that world. He knows how we will respond to the pressures, but He wants us to know how we will respond and us to call upon Him and trust Him. Without the trial, we have no concrete knowledge of that trust, just a notion of it. In that way of testing, we grow closer to Him each time we rely on Him for the strength to make it through the trial.
Counter to that is that bad things happen to those without God, and they have no one to rely upon, no one to carry them through life’s trials.
It could be that both books touched on the same topic and it blended together in my mind. Packer’s book is about the attributes of God while Guinness’ book is about Christian persuasion, and the art of apologetics. Balancing a loving God with the pain is one thing, but Chambers goes even further to state that we should down play the pain entirely, at least our own pain.
Have you seen people on social media that share every pain that they have ever had? In one sense, they get sympathy, but that could be the negative that Chambers is talking about – placing the focus on them instead of God to whom they serve. But it can also illicit prayers from around the world. That turns the focus back to God, but the prayer is often somewhat slanted toward the person’s pain, not healing of a broken world or healing of those within that broken world.
I have been guilty of mentioning a few medical issues over the past year. It is roughly the anniversary of when I had kidney stones, followed by my wife’s gallstone attack, and before she could have her gall bladder removed, she needed open-heart surgery – never getting the gall bladder removed. Then a couple of months ago, the flu sent my wife back to the hospital, twice. Yes, I have written about such things. For one, people would know why I did not post something on the regular schedule, skipping an odd day here or there. For another, our pain is part of our lives and others can relate. When you are sharing stories from your life, writing about a trip to the ER is part of that. But maybe each of us could do better with making it how God saw us through the pain and suffering rather than ‘oh, how it hurts.’
A little twist of a phrase in a sentence can be like twisting a mirror on a swivel to point to God rather than us. The same story, just a different focus.
It would be great if we could be hidden, as Chambers suggests as impossible, but if we are hidden, no one could see God within us. For now, we must tone down the ‘me, me, me’ as much as possible and focus on the ‘thee, thee, thee.’ Better known as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.